Understanding Sharps And Flats

Up until now we’ve been focusing on notes that are called natural notes—notes that don’t have a sharp or flat. Don’t know what sharps or flats are? That’s ok—read on! Before we go further here are a couple of important things to memorise…

Sharps And Flats: Symbols

Here’s a silly but effective way of remembering this…

  • Remembering Sharps: What would happen if you stood on something SHARP (like a nail?). If you’re like most people, you’d jump UP in the air!
  • Remembering Flats: What would happen if your car got a FLAT tyre? Chances are, the car would sink DOWN towards the ground.

Here’s a table showing you what you’ve just learned. Notice in the first column I’ve given you the symbols that musicians use to indicate a flat or sharp…

Sharps And Flats: Symbols

Let’s look at an example to make things 100% clear…

Example: If G is at the 3rd fret then …

  • G# would be at the 4th fret.
  • Gb would be at the 2nd fret.

Let’s now look at the musical alphabet with sharps and flats added. Check out the diagram below..

Musical Alphabet Table

Important: Although B#, Cb, E# and Fb do exist in certain music theory situations. I’ve left them out of the diagram to keep things simple for now.

To finish off this lesson, here are a few fretboard diagrams that you can use for future reference…

Musical Alphabet Diagram 1: No Sharps or Flats

Musical Alphabet: Natural Notes

Musical Alphabet Diagram 2: Sharps Included

Musical Alphabet: Sharps Included

 Musical Alphabet Diagram 3: Flats Included

Musical Alphabet: Flats Included

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